Recruiting rankings don’t necessarily predict NFL riches

College football prospects are rated on a scale of one to five stars (5 representing the best, 1 the worst) coming out of high school. So how does that quantification translate to the just completed 2010 NFL draft?

As one might expect, the vast majority of the players selected in the first round of this past week’s draft came out of high school with a lot of stars next to their names. But not all of them.

In fact, one of the notable exceptions was the Atlanta Falcons’ draft pick. Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who the Falcons selected with the 19th pick, was considered a two-star recruit by both the Rivals and Scout recruiting services when he signed with Missouri out of Jasper High in Texas.

Weatherspoon, Idaho offensive lineman Mike Iupati, Boise State cornerback Kyle Wilson, Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty and TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes made up a suprisingly large group of consensus two-star college prospects taken in the first round. And Fresno State running back Ryan Matthews, the No. 12 pick of the San Diego Chargers, got only a 2 from Rivals and a 3 from Scout coming out of Bakersfield, Calif.

Other than that, the draft’s first-round was mostly a star-studded affair.

Fairburn’s Eric Berry, the No. 5 pick of the Kansas City Chiefs, was one of five consensus 5-star college prospects, including Gerald McCoy (No. 3 pick), CJ Spiller (9), Brandon Graham (13) and, of course, Tim Tebow (25). Twenty-three of the 32 selections had at least one recruiting ranking of 4 stars or better coming out of high school. Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, the No. 1 overall pick, was among those. However, while he received a 4-star rating from Scout, he got only a 3 from Rivals.

Locally, it has been well documented that Georgia Tech had a fantastic year in the NFL draft. The Yellow Jackets had two players — defensive end Derrick Morgan and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas – taken in the first round. That hadn’t happened since 1979 when running back Eddie Lee Ivery (15th) and tackle Kent Hill (26th) each got the early call. The Yellow Jackets had four players drafted, including safety Morgan Burnett going in the third round and running back Jonathan Dwyer in the sixth.

Meanwhile, Georgia had a down year for the draft. The Bulldogs had five players drafted but none before linebacker Rennie Curran went late in the third round.

However, the argument that the Yellow Jackets’ players were “coached up more” is hard to validate. Thomas was a 3-star recruit coming out of Dublin’s West Laurens High and definitely improved his stick in college. But otherwise Morgan, Burnett and Dwyer were all high-profile recruits with consensus 4-star ratings.

Conversely, Georgia’s Reshad Jones, considered a 5-star recruit by Rivals when he came out of Atlanta’s Booker T. Washington High (4 per Scout), didn’t get selected until the fifth round. But just last year Georgia had the No. 1 overall player (quarterback Matt Stafford), two first-rounders (including running back Knowshon Moreno), three of the first 50 picks (including wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi) and six players overall.

Here’s some data to chew on before telling us what you think:


  • DE Derrick Morgan, 1st round (16th pick) — 4-star ratings from both Rivals and Scout
  • WR Demaryius Thomas, 1st (22) — 3 stars from both Rivals and Scout
  • DB Morgan Burnett, 3rd (71) — 4 stars from both Rivals and Scout
  • RB Jonathan Dwyer, 6th (188) — 4-stars from both Rivals and Scout


  • LB Rennie Curran, 3rd (97)  — 4 stars ratings from both Rivals and Scout
  • DT Geno Atkins, 4th (120) — 4 stars from both Rivals and Scout
  • DB Reshad Jones, 5th (163) — 5 stars from Rivals, 4 from Scout
  • DT Jeff Owens, 7th (243) — 4 stars from both Rivals and Scout
  • DT Kade Weston, 7th (248) — 4 stars Rivals, 2 stars Scout


Team — Player — Rivals/Scout rank

  1. Rams — Sam Bradford 3/4
  2. Lions — Ndamukong Suh 4/4
  3. Buccaneers — Gerald McCoy 5/5
  4. Redskins — Trent Williams 3/3
  5. Chiefs — Eric Berry 5-5
  6. Seahawks — Russell Okung 3/4
  7. Browns — Joe Haden 4/4
  8. Raiders — Rolando McClain 4/4
  9. Bills — CJ Spiller 5/5
  10. Jaguars — Tyson Alualu 3/4
  11. 49ers –  Anthony Davis 4/5
  12. Chargers — Ryan Mathews 3/2
  13. Eagles — Brandon Graham 5/5
  14. Seahawks — Earl Thomas 4/4
  15. Giants — Jason Pierre-Paul 4/4*
  16. Titans — Derrick Morgan 4/4
  17. 49ers — Mike Iupati 2/2
  18. Steelers — Maurkice Pouncey 4/4
  19. Falcons — Sean Weatherspoon 2/2
  20. Texans — Kareem Jackson 4/3
  21. Bengals — Jermaine Gresham 4/4
  22. Broncos — Demaryius Thomas 3/3
  23. Packers — Bryan Bulaga 4/4
  24. Cowboys — Dez Bryant 4/4
  25. Broncos — Tim Tebow 5/5
  26. Cardinals — Dan Williams 3/3
  27. Patriots — Devin McCourty 2/2
  28. Dolphins –  Jared Odrick 4/4
  29. Jets — Kyle Wilson 2/2
  30. Lions — Jahvid Best 4/4
  31. Colts –  Jerry Hughes 2/2
  32. Saints — Patrick Robinson 4/4

90 comments Add your comment


April 26th, 2010
5:56 am

As much as Tech coached them up, GA may have done opposite.


April 26th, 2010
6:21 am

All of the Georgia draftees this year were on the defensive side of he ball. There’s little dispute that the Georgia defenses under Willie Martinez underachieved, so I doubt there will be much of an argument about this draft. The mistake here would be to make generalizations about Georgia vs Tech football in general based on these draft data. It’s unequivocal that Tech had a better draft year, but the prospects they had drafted were all highly-recruited coming out of high school, so it’s not as though being at Tech somehow transformed them into blue-chippers. And to throw the monkey wrench into the whole “coaching up” argument, it’s not as though Tech has had consistent success against Georgia in the last decade. By contrast, they haven’t (they’ve lost 8 out of 9 head-to-head). Moreover, Georgia’s won 98 games over the last 10 years (versus 80 for Tech), with two conference titles to Tech’s one and four BCS bowl appearances to Tech’s one. It’s fairly obvious which program has been better–and that’s been validated by Georgia’s NFL draft status, 62 players over the last decade, which is the second-most in the NCAA.


April 26th, 2010
6:22 am

Rankings really don’t mean anything in winning championships but getting the 5 and 4 stars players sure sales for rivals and scout magazines and websites. Saban can recruit the best 4 and 5 stars players and make they even better football players as by winning 2 NC’s at LSU and Alabama. RTR


April 26th, 2010
7:31 am

30-24 Oh, I forgot I’m a moron.

iknowgeorgia footbal

April 26th, 2010
7:37 am

This is really flawed article Tim. In high school, prospects are rated purely on potential and what they’re able to produce on film & camps. The NFL, on the other hand, is absolutely concerned with player ability, but there are so many other variables that determine a college prospects draft position: how they were utilized in college and namely the big “character” question.

With all that being said however, i will go on record saying that i think R. Jones has probably been on the more under-utilized players in the country. He possess all the skill sets and the work ethic to dominate and yet he was just another safety. mark my words, had he been playing for alabama or with monte kiffin last year, things might have been looking a little differently for this past weekend.


April 26th, 2010
7:56 am

i beleive had r jones stayed one more year under grantham,he may have been a first or early second round drafted player.he has tremendous up swing and was quite a catch to be on the board that late in the draft.


April 26th, 2010
8:07 am

dusty doesn’t really have an eye for details, does he?

Big time?? Not

April 26th, 2010
8:30 am

The most telling numbers: Four tickets, four hot dogs, four cokes


April 26th, 2010
8:46 am

Out of 32 1st Rounders, bet only 10 end up making much of real a contribution.

Dixie Clear

April 26th, 2010
8:46 am

most telling numbers : arrests and jail visits !!!!

HardTruth Soldier Here

April 26th, 2010
8:56 am

Mark Ingram of Alabama was a 3 star coming out of H.S., his back-up was a five star. It’s coaching people, it;s a players commitment to excellence. You gotta want it. Plain and Simple!

Wow Chip

April 26th, 2010
9:06 am

You don’t have to defend Richt at every stop. The article would have been much better served by giving the facts. Correct facts would have been even better. How would you not know that Weston was a 5 Star blue chip recruit? A 2 star after leaving Athens, YES. Not before arriving. But don’t let the facts get in the way of you defending Richt.


April 26th, 2010
9:08 am

I wonder what DJ Donley was thinking while watching Bey-Bey get drafted in the first round last week??? He could have been next if he had just stuck around. Where did he end up at, anyone know?


April 26th, 2010
9:09 am

High school player ratings are made about kids. The NFL draft is all about young men. There is a big difference between kids and young men. Then a few years into a NFL draftee’s career and we are talking about men, not young men.

Sleep late lose weight

April 26th, 2010
9:19 am

Chip , how did Ga do in the 7on7 camp this weekend in Ala and who were some of the players that participated on the GA team.


April 26th, 2010
9:29 am

Its a business plain and simple! Most of the 4 and 5 star recruits deserve their rankings in high school. They usually preform well in camps and highlight tapes show how on some plays they dominate the competition! On the flip side; once they enter into college, where everyone is a 3 to 5 star recruit and they are no longer treated like the savior to a program they fail to live up to their potential! Alot of kids cant take constantly having to fight to keep their spot as a starter or even as a backup, consequently they end up at the bottom of the depth chart or transferring! I speak from 1st hand knowledge that you cant measure a kids heart and work ethic coming out of a situation where they have been the big man on campus since like 8th grade (if not earlier)! Some kids fall victim to the politics of the college game as well! All to often a players spot will be taken by a 5 star recruit if he has enough hype coming into a program! Perfect example would be the uga QB situation! Murry has a strong arm, but I watched the spring game and I saw him struggle on a few fronts! Its not to say that he wont be good but the Mett as alot better! I know he has a few issues but I know Murry was gonna get the job no matter how good Mett did!


April 26th, 2010
9:32 am


Pago Flyer

April 26th, 2010
9:32 am

Who cares about the NFL, can we just beat FL/UT/UK all in the same year!


April 26th, 2010
9:39 am

Confederate Dawg I agree with you for the most part; but yall have a bigger problem up in Athens! APD!!!!! It seems to me that allowing college kids to do what they normally do isnt apart of their thought process! If not going to the bar district in athens, what else is there to do up there? Walking aroung and enjoying that beautiful campus gets old after awhile, lol! It seems loke APD sets up details to catch the students as they are leaving from the bars!!!! IDK, but that seems problematic to me! How can I trust a coach that tells me he will take care of my son like he was his when so many of his children end up in jail? I dont think I would go for that, how about you?


April 26th, 2010
9:41 am

Do you have the list of 5 stars that did not get drafted? It would be interesting to see how many of the “can’t miss” players do not make it to the NFL.

Off the subject but maybe not

April 26th, 2010
9:48 am

To say one has to defend Richt is folly. He has won two SECs and another East Championship and coached UGA to two Sugar Bowls and a Cap One on more than one ocassion; as well as other bowls in 9 years. He finished # 2 once and top 10 in other years. UGA is the only school ( with J Donnan and M Richt ) to win 8 or more games for 13 and soon to be 14 years in a row.

Please correct this UGA ONLY achivement if I am wrong. Maybe it was Penn St or Oklahoma or Texas or Florida or Alabama or Southern Cal ( the real USC ) or Ohio State or Michigan or Wisconsin to win the 8 or more over 13 years. NOPE ……………UGA.

UGA ia a solid Second Tier program and that is great news. Why? Well, Second Tier means maybe no recent NCs but a consistent WINNER and participant in major bowls over a long period of time, being defined ( by me ) over 10-15 years. One major bowl trip means nada, zilch, zero.

First Tier schools are for now ( it changes with each new year ) Alabama, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, Ohio State and maybe USC and LSU. Why? They have all won a NC in the last 10 years.

Second Tier? Oh no …………no ACC schools are in there because they rarely see a major bowl beyond the Gator. The Urange trip for tech is their second trip in 42 years, so that clearly shows that tech is not even Second Tier. Wisconsin, Iowa and Boise State, UT and a couple of others are the schools in this second group.

In conclusion …………to be Second Tier means that you have one very fine program, especially when compared to Third Tier schools. It also means that your BRAND IS $$$ and that you fill your stadium. Second Tier is not Sub Prime like Third Tier is.

Go Dogs. Sic em! Woof, woof, woof!!!!


April 26th, 2010
10:30 am

It’s not all coaching – it the rating system, They can’t evaulate every plays. Kids at well know schools get invites to camps and stuff.

The ratings are some what based on what schools have contacted the HS players. So if Oklahoma, Bama, UGA offer the player he will get rated higher. Sometimes a player may be a backup as a junior and be a great player as a senior, if say UGA already has verbal commitments at his position then his value goes down, nothing to do with skill of player.


April 26th, 2010
10:37 am

Witherspoon is considered to be a slight “reach” where the Falcons drafted him and was projected to be a high to mid 2nd round pick …. Falcon’s primary needs were DE, LT and WR. With that in mind the logical choice should have been Dez Bryant WR who was rated in the top 10 of the draft. Also the Falcons reached with the DT in the 3rd round. He could have still been gotten in the 4th or 5th round. The OL they got in the 3rd round was projected to be a 3rd round choice. Some times the so called experts are wrong but I would have taken Dez Bryant #1.


April 26th, 2010
10:39 am

So there were more 2 star players then 5 star players in the first round and the top over all pick was a 3/4 star player? Yeah, I guess this pretty much proves that the rankings are meaningless.


April 26th, 2010
10:39 am

All the more reason Weatherspoon should have been passed up on! As a 2/2 he likely has overachieved in College. Thus, where is his upside??? Terrible pick! We absolutely needed pass rushers and got none! Guess we are planning to Blitz a lot more this year! We will become the JETS of the South.

Matthews Dawg

April 26th, 2010
10:40 am

GTBook…How can your coach PROMISE that “your son” won’t get robbed at gun point on Tech’s campus! I’ll take the APD (I agree they are looking for kids to bust) over thugs in downtown Atlanta. I would trust CMR with my son! No way you can compare the two cities.

Alabama Jack

April 26th, 2010
10:54 am

Atlanta would be safe if the crime dawgs would just stay in Athens (and the Clarke County jail).


April 26th, 2010
10:58 am

Bamafan…..While you have had two good seasons in a row, I guess that makes up for EIGHT probation riddled, mediocre, losing to LAMO and AU seasons. Congratulations on perfecting that selective memory that fl was able to perfect. You know, fl has no recollection of football until 1991 and now you have forgotten about 8 of the last 10 years. Enjoy!!


April 26th, 2010
11:13 am

To consider if a college coach/school “coaches players up” or “coaches players down” one must look long term, over a number of years.

Year in and year out, UGA has top recruiting classes – often in the top 10 in the nation. However, it is a rare event that UGA has a top 10 team at the end of the year. Also, UGA players only have drafted a few top ones and not those that were recruited heavily.

GA Tech, rarely has a top 10 recruiting class and in fact is around 40. However, the team regularly finishes much higher thatn 40 in the nation and also has many players drafted that were not highly regarded out of high school.

THAT is why GA Tech coaches players up and UGA coaches players down.


April 26th, 2010
11:16 am

@Mathew’s Dawg -

EDUCATE THYSELF! The crimes you hear on the news is not on Tech’s campus. They are outside of Tech’s campus in the City of Atlanta (Home Park neighborhood, usually). For whatever reason (gee, aren’t news folks graduates of ugags communication college?), the news people like to say that a crime was near Tech’s campus and also infer that the crime has anything to do with Tech.


April 26th, 2010
11:20 am

@Off The Subject But Maybe Not

Who gives a flip what YOU consider second tier or third tier bowls? That is your opinion and you know what they say about opinions?

Bowls primarily have locked in contracts with conferences. Rating bowls is nothing more than rating conferences. Since you already have in your pea brain what conferences YOU feel are stronger, then you rate bowls accordingly.

Then, you use your biased bowl tier ranking to justify your opinion on conferences? Talk about circular logic!


April 26th, 2010
11:26 am

Yech’s greatest team in 20 years and with all their studs opting to leave yet they still have less players drafted than UGA? The recruits are taking notice. Dark days ahead on the Flats in the ghetto.


April 26th, 2010
11:51 am

Recruiting rankings are largely based on talent and ability. They have virtually nothing to do with desire, technique, reception to coaching and whether they are a good fit for the coaching they get at the next level. If they have all the talent in the world and just don’t show it or consistantly make mistakes they are going to slip.


April 26th, 2010
12:07 pm

usc & um are in much worse parts of town & do fine-maybe the avg. D1 player is not as afraid of folks in those ‘hoods as much as the avg. daug fan(wonder why…)let’s see, business degree in #1 city in USA for black professionals vs. pe or custodial degree from….


April 26th, 2010
12:22 pm

Rare even that UGA finishes in the top 10 at the end of the year? I’d go back and check your facts over the last 10 years Reality…

Oh… and congrats to Tech for all those top 40 finishes. LoL

Reality Check

April 26th, 2010
12:22 pm

I don’t understand the point of the article. It’s quite obvious that rankings are playing a bigger role in success at the college and NFL level because recruiting services & camps are getting better & better. I guess this article was put out because Georgia didn’t have many players drafted. Wonder what the article would have said if the Dawgs had several players drafted, imagine?

San Francisco Dawg

April 26th, 2010
12:29 pm

Who cares about this? I mean really? And getting drafted high does not mean you will succeed in the NFL…garbage writing at best!


April 26th, 2010
12:34 pm

Bottom line here to me for players picking a school, go where the coaches can really COACH and motivate. Love the article!


April 26th, 2010
12:40 pm

Reality: “Year in and year out, UGA has top recruiting classes – often in the top 10 in the nation. However, it is a rare event that UGA has a top 10 team at the end of the year.

HUH??? According to ESPN, UGA has finished in the Top 10 of the final rankings 5 out of the last 8 seasons. (goes back to 2002). Thats almost 63%!!! Sounds like Reality is just spouting off opinion without any facts to back them up.

Reality: “Also, UGA players only have drafted a few top ones and not those that were recruited heavily.”

HUH??? From 2000-2009 (prior to this year’s 2010 draft) UGA and UT are the only two schools in the SEC to have 10 players drafted in the first round. Also, this number may be a little dated, but as of the end of 2008, the University of Miami had the most players on current NFL rosters with 55 players. UGA was second with 54. The list wasn’t long enough to show how many GT players there were, nor was I able to find out how many GT players were first round draft picks over the last decade. Huh, weird…


April 26th, 2010
12:41 pm

there is no question in my mind that our players were terribly coached by Martinez and company.


April 26th, 2010
12:47 pm


Your analysis is one-sided. Look at the other side of the coin. GA Tech’s recruiting class ranks compared to where the team finished.

When you do compare BOTH sides of the coin, you may understand. Otherwise, you will still be going “huh?”


April 26th, 2010
12:52 pm

Reality, you failed to justify any of the statements you previously made. My analysis is in response to your statements. I’m not interested in lashing out at GT’s football program. I’m more interested in proving that your above statements don’t hold water, and I’m confident that was accomplished.
I’d be happy to do more research if you want though. Want me to look up GT’s bowl record over the last decade?


April 26th, 2010
1:27 pm

The thing that isn’t discussed about the and rankings are the players who slip through the cracks in several ways:

-going to schools who were not very large in HS
-late developing players who don’t “blossom” until their Senior year or later
-Non-Skill position players rarely get high marks on these boards because it’s difficult to evaluate them unless they are truly dominant.


April 26th, 2010
1:34 pm

Will babydaddy Rennie Curran use some of his signing money to start making his child support payments? This is the kind of scandalous behavior that the AJC needs to shine the spotlight on. We hear all kinds of rumors that the kid is going hungry, is out of diapers, etc.

Why did Mark Richt not have a problem with this?

A moral person would marry the mother of his child. Obviously that’s not the case with babydaddy curran.


April 26th, 2010
1:38 pm

Mariel this isn’t a blog about morals or your opinion of right or wrong. Thanks but no thanks…

dawg fan

April 26th, 2010
1:41 pm

rankings and draft positions doesn’t matter if the player goes on to be a bust. what matters is at the end of the season, which player played better. which round someone got drafted in has nothing do with what happens in their NFL career nor does it make him a better player than the next guy. if brandon spikes has a so-so career but rennie curran has a jesse tuggle type career, are you going to remember or care what round he went in??? who cares what person went before who, what matters is that the guy got drafted. most of the people on this blog get into a pissing competition about which school is better by basing it on who’s players went before the others. so tech had a good year in the draft, good for them, does that mean bay bay is going to be an all pro receiver because he went in the first round, no!!!! wake up and bring some intelligence to the blog rather than argue about who’s better. but i will say this to the tech fans, 30-24 thats with your first round WR & DE.


April 26th, 2010
1:48 pm

UGA has been able to put some offensive players in the low rounds lately. Its just that the defense has been lacking in the draft. That shows just how bad CWM was with Rashad Jones and company. I believe this new defensive coaching staff will help get UGAs defensive draft prospects back into the lower rounds.

dawg fan

April 26th, 2010
1:49 pm

dont blame CWM for R. Jones. Jones didn’t play like a 5 star. you cant blame the coaches for everything, the players have to make the plays.

Tide Rising

April 26th, 2010
1:54 pm

There was a study that showed that the recruiting rankings actually do have a measure of accuracy. I don’t remember the exact #s but this is roughly how it went.

A 5 star coming out of high school had nearly a 50% chance of going in the NFL draft’s 1st 3 rounds after college.

A 4 star had something like a 25% chance of being drafted in the first 3 rounds.

A 3 star had a roughly 10% chance and a 2 star had about a 2% chance of going in the nfl’s draft’s 1st 3 rounds after his college career.

It would seem to be right because looking at the draft numbers above 5 players achieved 5 star status and a 6th achieved 5 star in one of the 2 rating svcs and went in the 1st round. That’s only the first round and doesn’t include the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Very few high school players achieve 5 star status coming out of high school(probably 25-30)so we know just by looking at the 1st round stats above that the study’s numbers seem to be borne out.

So 6 5star recruits go in the first round alone out of I’m guessing 25 or 30 that were assigned 5 star status coming out of high school.

Now lets look at the other extreme the 2 stars coming out of high school. There were 5 players who were 2 star in both svcs and a 6th who was 2star in one svc and 3 star in the other svc. Lets just say 6 players.

Of the over 2500 high school recruits who sign D-1 letters of intent every year probably about 1500 of them are probably the lower end 2 star recruits. If that’s true and 5 or 6 of them ended up making it in the first round then once again the numbers do seem to indicate that a very small % of a very large number of 2 star recruits coming out of high school will end up in the 1st round of the NFL draft.

Bottom line is obvious. These recruiting rankings are in fact surprisingly accurate. Sure, we can always point out the obvious 5 star busts and the 2 or 3 star guys that became big time players but the overall numbers show that on average the rankings are a fair indicator of future success or failure.

One other note. Is it any surprise that the teams that top the recruiting rankings every year like OU, USC, Texas, Florida, etc. are also the same teams that are in most years are in the national title hunt and in most years also have the most draft picks?

dawg fan

April 26th, 2010
2:09 pm

nice post tide rising and your right.